WTA announces decision to suspend all events in China over Peng Shuai issue: Andy Roddick, Petra Kvitova, Billie Jean King and others show their support

The WTA has announced suspension of all its tournaments in China in support of Peng Shui
The WTA has announced suspension of all its tournaments in China in support of Peng Shui
Shyam Kamal

Current and former tennis stars, including Andy Roddick, Petra Kvitova and Billie Jean King, praised the WTA for deciding to cancel all their tournaments in China.

The announcement was made earlier today in a press release by Steve Simon, the Chairman and CEO of the WTA.

"With the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong."

The move came in support of Chinese player Peng Shuai, who suddenly disappeared after coming forward with allegations of sexual abuse against China's former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on the Chinese social media site Weibo.

The WTA had earlier received assurance on the former doubles World No 1's safety and well being. However, the WTA wants her allegations to be addressed more seriously before they recommit to playing in China.

Simon was quoted as saying:

"However, unless China takes the steps we have asked for, we cannot put our players and staff at risk by holding events in China. China’s leaders have left the WTA with no choice."

Both former and current players took to Twitter to applaud the bold decision. They lauded the WTA for standing up in support of the player's individual rights, even though the move is likely to cost them money.

Many of them, including Kvitova, had earlier tweeted about Peng Shuai's disappearance, using the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai. Current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and former World No. 1s Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had also expressed their concerns.

Djokovic said he supported the WTA's decision during his recent press conference at the Davis Cup.

There are a lot of organizations who can afford to do something like this a lot more than the WTA can ……. Respect. Doing the right thing is a lot easier when there aren’t associated costs. I continue to be proud to be in the tennis orbit #PengShuai…
What a leader ✊…
I applaud Steve Simon & the @WTA leadership for taking a strong stand on defending human rights in China & around the world. The WTA is on the right side of history in supporting our players. This is another reason why women’s tennis is the leader in women’s sports.…

The US Tennis Association also backed the WTA's decision and professed solidarity.

USTA Statement on WTA Decision Regarding WTA Tournaments in China

What does the move mean for the WTA calendar?

The 2021 WTA finals was already moved from China to Guadalajara
The 2021 WTA finals was already moved from China to Guadalajara

Usually, the China leg of the WTA calendar runs from mid-October to November. But WTA had already suspended the tournaments in China in 2020 and 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 WTA Finals were to be held in Shenzhen, but the venue was later changed to Guadalajara, Mexico. The recent announcement means that the 2022 WTA Finals will have to find a new venue as well.

The China Open is another important tournament which is going to be canceled. This is a WTA 1000-level tournament and its last edition in 2019 saw Japan's Naomi Osaka lift the trophy, while current world No.1 Ashleigh Barty was the runner-up.

Edited by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya


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